Making it as the son of a Hollywood movie star is a path paved with perks and fraught with pitfalls, as Max Irons has already discovered. Inheriting the genetic jackpot, the actor is a handsome blend of his brooding Oscar-winning father, Jeremy, and his mother Sinead Cusack’s fair Irish complexion.
And, with the family connections in the industry, that was half the battle for Max, last seen opposite his rumoured girlfriend Saoirse Ronan in sci-fi action flick, The Host. But, according to the young Irons, the family name has also created its obstacles.
“I’d be lying if I said there weren’t casting directors out there who’d be more interested in meeting me over somebody else because of my name,” he tells SWM in London.
“With that being said, I know there’s a preconception because of that and I know it’s possible it could have prevented me from roles as a result.
“But I don’t think a casting agent worth their salt would be much good if they hired me on just my background alone.”
Along with The Host and 2011’s Red Riding Hood, where he romanced Amanda Seyfried on-screen, the 27-year-old takes on his biggest role to date in the BBC’s lavish adaptation of The White Queen as King Edward II.
“Some of my previous parts have been, well ‘guy candy’ as it were,” he laughs. “But this is a chance to be a part of a complex, visceral production that examines and probes some of the most important events in British history.
“And I get to play King Edward II. That is pretty huge, and the pressure was on. Admittedly, it’s given me the opportunity to brush up on my own history knowledge because I never paid attention in school,” he adds.
Max will soon follow up with a lead role in the big screen adaptation of West End stage hit, Posh. So mum and dad clearly got it wrong when they tried their hardest to discourage Max from pursuing acting.
“When I first told them that I wanted to follow acting, they really tried to dissuade me from the profession,” he explains. “They’d say to me, ‘don’t look at us as realistic examples of success. We’ve been incredibly lucky and it won’t necessarily be the same for you’.
“But now that they can see I’m actually making a living from it. Well just about, I do pay London prices after all.”
A former model for Burberry and Mango, Irons, who recently split with Sucker Punch star Emily Browning, grew up in North London but spent the summers at the family’s West Cork hideout, Kilcoe Castle, which once infamously boasted a rather fetching shade of pink.
“Let me clarify, it was only pink for a few days because that was the under colour,” he tells. “It’s actually a rusty peach. But it created such a huge fuss back in the day, and I guess I could see why.
“It was so unusual to see a castle painted that colour. But the neighbours and council grew to like it.”
And look, if it remained grey, it would have looked like a tower block. White and it would look like a fridge.”
So I think Dad was right to give the area a little colour. I love how it looks now.”
Visiting our shores several times a year since he was born, Irons admits he feels more Irish than British and treasures his close bond with actress aunts, Sorcha, Niamh and Catherine. However, he wishes he had more time to get to know his legendary grandfather, Cyril, famous for performances in Strumpet City and My Left Foot.
He says: “I’m very close to my mum’s side, simply because when we all get together, it’s a party like no other.
“Unfortunately I don’t have many memories of Cyril as he passed away when I was five. But I remember being up in Donegal with him for a few family get togethers, and watching him laugh a lot. He had so many stories.
“And Cyril was so proud watching his daughters follow in his footsteps. It would have been nice if he’d known I went down the same path.”
The White Queen starts on BBC One next Sunday, June 16.